Impostor Syndrome: When We Don’t Value Our Success

What is impostor syndrome? The term was coined in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes.

Although not a clinical disorder per se (not categorized nosologically in any medical treatise or clinical diagnosis), impostor syndrome is specified as mental and emotional distress directly related to individual emotion of not deserving the place (and / or recognition) that the patient occupies or appreciates (because of his personal skills) at the professional, academic and social level.

Impostor Syndrome: An Unrecognized Disorder

So, if this condition does not appear classified in the various clinical diagnostic manuals, how to talk about it? This is due to the fact that under this term have been grouped a series of clinical symptoms that cause emotional discomfort, which, due to its characteristics, differs from known and classified disorders, but generates anxiety in the patient.

Epidemiology is indistinguishable between professionals and non-professionals, it does not distinguish between males and females, and approximately seven out of ten people have suffered from it at some point in their lives.

This syndrome usually appears in students with excellent grades and, to a greater extent, in successful professionals; his appearance is known to have a strong correlation with low self-esteem and poor self-image of the individual.

Pathological modesty

Another important factor for its occurrence is usually the derogatory or critical attitude on the part of people who share the environment of the upset subject who envy their successes.

The person who suffers from this disease feels that they never live up to all that they enjoy as a result of their success and capabilities. The individual has a persistent feeling of not being good enough at what he does, in addition to categorizing himself as useless or incapable; moreover, he blames himself for being an impostor, a total fraud in everything he does.

In this syndrome, the patient assumes with certainty that his success is a matter of luck and chance and never because of his own intelligence and abilities.


Some of its most common symptoms are:

  • The constant belief that successes and achievements are undeserved; the individual considers that these successes are the cause of luck, of chance, or of the fact that other people in the circle in which he evolves and who consider themselves more powerful than they have helped them to reach them, devaluing thus their individual capacities.
  • Recurring lack of confidence in their own skills.
  • Permanent fear of other people who might be “cheated” so that the individual discovers his “fraud”.
  • Constant insecurity and lack of confidence in the academic, labor and social fields.
  • Persistent expectations of failure safe in the face of similar situations which have been successfully overcome by the individual himself in previous events.
  • low self-esteem.
  • For no apparent reason, symptomatic images of a negative nature appear, such as: anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, etc.

How to overcome it?

Interestingly, that feeling of not being prepared enough it disappears over time and the individual acquires more experience in the field in which he is developing.

To overcome the condition, it is important that the individual does not reject or ignore compliments or praise, he must accept them, they are the result of his effort!

It is important that the person helps others, so when achieving a result together, they will shape their thoughts when they realize that the other person has achieved their goal through the intervention of the person. suffering from the syndrome., Like this, the misconception that success is due to chance will be gradually uprooted.

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